Extracurricular Activities: Benita Raphan

By Tk Published on .

For the last year, Benita Raphan has been an assistant producer of special effects at acclaimed New York post house Quiet Man, but that's just her day job. Or rather her night job - she's a second-string Flame operator on the graveyard shift. "It's a great opportunity to work on state-of-the-art equipment," she says, but Raphan is first and foremost an experimental filmmaker - though the Quiet Man job has its high-art possibilities as well. She did a "very collaged proposal piece" for her pending Rockefeller grant on the Flame there, and she expects to use it extensively to composite her first feature, 2+2, which is in development.

A graduate of New York's School of Visual Arts and the Royal College of Art in London, Raphan has three short animated films to her credit, made for the U.K.'s Channel Four Television. The most recent one is 1996's Absence Stronger Than Presence, produced by Jon Kamen of @Radical Media, with music by Philip Glass. It's a seven-minute minimalist documentary on Edwin Land and the invention of the Polaroid photographic process. "There's a story about his daughter asking him why she can't see the picture right away, which caused me to visualize the whole film," says Raphan. Her rarefied style has been influenced by the Brothers Quay, with a Surrealist's emphasis on found footage, collage and serendipitous processing; "What I do is not really controlled in the darkroom," she explains. "Random things happen to the images, with odd developing times and the like."

The thirtysomething Raphan has already had a remarkably varied career. She's been a photographer's assistant to Albert Watson; a director/designer with Henry Sandbank; she's freelanced at agencies like Deutsch and Wieden &_Kennedy; and she was even briefly art director at Martha Stewart Living magazine.

As for 2+2, "It's about the past, present and future of a woman's life, showing her at three different ages," says Raphan. It will be a mix of live action and puppet animation, and the trailer will be executive-produced by Hungry Man's Steve Orent. So despite her rather esoteric film style, Raphan is quite pleased with the ad business. "It's through advertising that I met all the people who worked on my films," she says. (TK)

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